But the devil is still in the details – information collection requirements stall effectiveness of all the new rules, probably for months.

The TV “white space” rules appeared in the Federal Register on February 17, 2009, and will (at least according to the Federal Register) take effect in 30 days, on March 19 – which is about time, since the rules were adopted by the Commission several months ago.

Despite what the Federal Register says, however, certain of the rule sections involve new information collections and, because of that, require approval from the Office of Management and Budget. These will not take effect until further notice, probably at least a few months. They are the rules concerning the database of occupied channels and the procedures for approving sensing-only devices. Without these, the other rules are useless. The rules not taking effect on March 19 are Sections 15.713 (TV bands database), 15.714 (TV bands database administration fees), 15.715 (TV bands database administrator), and 15.717 (TV band devices that rely on spectrum sensing).

Even after these rules do take effect, we will not see white space devices on the market until well after the database is up and running. The FCC intends to request applications from entities interested in designing, setting up, and operating the database. But the selection process has not yet begun, with the large and complex task of implementation still to follow. Once started, the whole process will take many months, and possibly a year or more.